For those of us who tramp (hike), we know how addictive it is. It gets into your veins. It becomes a part of you, and you feel like you’re not you unless you’re out exploring the backcountry.
I remember the first time I saw a presentation about mountaineering, by Danilo Hegg [for those of you who don’t know who Danilo is, he’s an absolute tramping legend and photographer. You can find a link to his photography site over on the right under the links]. It was one of the first tramping club meetings I’d ever attended (back in 2011). I just happened to luck out to see a presentation by Danilo about climbing Mt Tutoko. Afterwards, I got the courage to ask him “how do you get started doing something like that?”. And he said you just have to get out and start tramping. Though it wasn’t until I met Dylan that the tramping became an every weekend sort of activity instead of an every once in a while activity.
The other tramping club presentation I distinctly remember was when a local man gave a talk about walking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This must have been around 2012 or 2013, at least a year or 2 before the movie Wild came out. Again, I remember being totally transfixed by his talk. I had all these questions – how much does it cost? What sort of gear do you need? Where does a person even begin? There was so much interest that he even came back and gave a second talk about his walk at the club.
I became obsessed. I remember I was finishing up my PhD at the time but I was scouring the internet, reading blogs of other PCT hikers. I came across Carrot Quinn and her blog before she was ‘famous’, before her e-book, thinking how ludicrous it was that she was asking people to fund her second thru-hike in 2014, and how she’d never worked a day in her life and was essentially homeless… (and now her book is one of the top selling travel adventure e-books on Amazon.com… Not that I’ve read it, but don’t even get me started. I read her blog and that was enough).
I decided that the PCT was on my bucket list. And then Dylan and I did a lot of tramping this past year, and I realized that thru-hiking probably wasn’t for me. The Te Araroa trail appeals not at all. We decided we’d rather do shorter, more spectacular hikes. We’d be a bit choosier about where we’d go.
And then of course, I had to start reading Wild, and the PCT earworm has started working its way back in.
So I’ve started thinking about it again. There are a lot of really useful planning websites out there. I’ve started making a re-supply plan. Working out how long it will take us to walk. Drafting a budget.
No, I haven’t told anyone of these plans yet (apart from D) because the PCT is really a bucket list trip. It might never happen. Especially as I have a lot of doubts about my ability to physically do it. The longest trip Dylan and I have done to date is 6 nights. That certainly is a long way from 6 months! And the boredom. The monotony of terrain. The monotony of hiking every day. Setting up camp every day. Sleeping on the ground every day.
And who knows where the next few years will take us career and life-wise. Sometimes things happen that make these dreams impossible.
But I’d still like to give it a shot. Especially as Dylan and I definitely have the trail and terrain experience needed for a trip like this. It’s not like we’re green newbies who have never done an overnight hike. New Zealand has been the perfect training ground for variety in conditions and terrain. And I am now a big believer that skills and experience count for a lot in the backcountry. Sometimes even more than sheer fitness (though you certainly need a base fitness to work from).
So hopefully, someday, I’ll be writing here about our PCT experience. Keep your fingers crossed for me. In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming!